How I Use Twitter to Grow My Nonprofit Consulting Business

Most people scratch their heads when I tell them that the social media site I use the most is Twitter. I guess they figure that since the whole world is on Facebook, or that everyone is posting their pictures on Instagram, or that the hot social media site is Snapchat, it must seem strange that I'm still focused on....Twitter.

But I am, and I think it's a smart bet for one important reason.

There is simply no better way to directly connect with influencers in real time than on Twitter.

In the old Batman television show Commissioner Gordon had a "Batphone" to directly reach The Black Knight. Twitter is the "Batline" to important people.

How to Get Influencers to "Pickup" on Twitter 

But Batman didn't pick up the phone for just anyone. Nor will influencers respond to just anyone that follows or tweets them. I know, because as an influencer (i.e. someone who's an expert in his field, has thousands of followers and has been on Twitter for nearly a decade) I certainly don't.

What I and other influencers are looking for is simple: engagement. Don't ask for anything. Start by giving. Follow us, talk to us, share things you think we would find useful, interesting and funny! Would you just run up to someone on the street and ask them to support a cause, promote your content or ask them to be your best friend? Of course not.

Treat influencers like they are real people (because...umm...we are).

A few other things that matter to Twitter influencers.

 Hmmm...should I follow? No.

Hmmm...should I follow? No.

  1. No egg avatars. Upload a picture of yourself - and not your "spirit animal". I don't follow people with cat or dog avatars. Also, don't use an avatar that would prompt my wife to say, "Why are you talking to him?!"
  2. Mark your tweets public not private. Barack Obama's tweets are public but yours aren't? Get over yourself.
  3. Activity matters. The first thing I look at is how many tweets a person has and when was the last time she tweeted. If you haven't tweeted since 2014, but you're tweeting me now you must want something. Block.
  4. Tell me about yourself. You have 160 characters in your Twitter profile. What are your interests? What do you do? Why would you follow me? Links are fine. A link that goes to a website that hasn't been updated in a decade is not.
  5. Where you from? Are you really "worldwide", "global", "everywhere" or "in my dreams"? If so, you're way too important and busy to tweet with me.
  6. Say something. Are you just retweeting links or a "lurker" on Twitter. That makes for a boring follower. Educate, inspire and amuse me!

Why and How You Should Use Tweetdeck

If you are checking and writing your tweets on a laptop - like I do - you should use Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is a FREE dashboard that filters your tweets into columns for easy reading and tracking.

You have a lot of choices in how you filter your tweets into columns. Here's how I sort my tweets.

The first column are notifications of people who use my Twitter handle @joewaters. This is a great way to find new followers!

The second column includes tweets from anyone - whether I follow them or not - who use the hashtag #causemarketing.

The third column are influencers - people that I follow that I consider important. They share content that is interesting and useful to me.

The fourth column is my watch list. This is my most important column as it includes people and organizations I want to watch closely.

When researching potential clients I'll first check to see if they have a Twitter handle and if they are active. Both are important. A dormant Twitter handle is no better than no handle. But for those users that are active I'll add them to my "watch list."

Then, I start to engage with them. (Amazing pro-tip, right?) I read the things they are sharing, and share things with them that I think would interest them. I've made some great contacts - and even a few friends - through my watch list!

The key here is patience. If you're sincere about connecting with people a connection will happen. But it takes time!

That's why it's important to make a commitment to Twitter. That means:

  1. Showing up on Twitter every day. Think of a good friend or colleague. Found something interesting? Share it on Twitter. Have something important to say? Share it on Twitter. See or read something that inspires you. Share it on Twitter.
  2. Tweeting at least 15 to 20 times a day. I know people will disagree with me on this. But you need quality AND quantity to succeed on Twitter. I use Buffer to schedule tweets throughout the day. Then, when I have the time, I dip into realtime and tweet, read and goof around.
  3. Promote your content multiple times. One tweet isn't enough. Post your new content multiple times during the day and keep a list of popular old posts to retweet. Twitter moves quickly so it's easy to miss things. Don't give users an excuse NOT to read your content.
  4. Use Twitter strategically. Five minutes on Twitter can quickly turn into 25 or 50 minutes! Set limits. Use lists. Rely on Tweetdeck to streamline and filter tweets.

I often say that after blogging, jumping on Twitter was the second best thing I ever did. While Twitter is very different from when I signed up in 2008, it's still my #1 social network. The people are intelligent. The news is breaking. And I always find plenty of good things to read.

Most of all, Twitter has been good business. With some effort, it can be good for you business too.